on 11 July 2009
I chose this book from a couple on Skye because it seemed to be a mixture of text and photographs but, in fact, the book is virtually all photographs with very little text. What text there is is duplicated with English and Gealic. Though the photographs are beautiful I was disappointed at the amount of text.
If you have ever been to Skye, you will probably be under its spell. But what's the island really like?
James Hunter wrote this book in the 1980s when he was still an "occasional visitor" to Skye. Although clearly in love with the island, he presents a balanced view, written clearly and with great eloquence.
For the past, he describes both the romantic view and the reality of the hardship of life, in particular the events and effects of the clearances and the enforced emigrations to North America. We hear of both those who championed the rights of the islanders against the great landowners and those who helped to carry out the landowners' dirty work. For the present, he tells us what life is like for the residents, especially those who have been priced out of the housing market by second-homers.
As he says in the closing sentence, "Skye's future will be entirely what we make of it".
The book was re-issued in the 1990s, with a new preface but the main text unchanged. The preface mentions several changes since the first edition was published. For example, Hunter is now a resident, and the Skye Bridge now connects the island to the mainland. He feels that other changes which have occurred are, on balance, good rather than bad, and the preface ends on a note of optimism. The new edition benefits from some beautiful photographs by Cailean Maclean.